Andrew Garfield: Spidey Talks Teens and Swingin’ Action!
By: Lynn Barker
Some of us fell for cute Andrew Garfield when he played Mark Zuckerberg’s partner who got cheated out of a fortune in the Facebook creation flick The Social Network. The young Brit actor was a total Spider-Man dweeb as a kid and still can’t believe he’s playing his fave childhood hero in The Amazing Spider-Man out July 3rd.
Kidzworld flew to NYC to get Andrew’s take on mentally returning to his high school years to get into Peter Parker’s head, how girlfriend Emma Stone was “terrifying” in their romantic scenes, his Spidey work-out, stunts, suit troubles and more.
Picture this boy-next-door wearing jeans, black leather Chucks high tops and grey sweater over white shirt. The fluffy hair completes the preppie look.
Kidzworld: A big part of this movie is Peter Parker before he becomes Spider-Man. You are in your 20’s so how did you prepare? Did you call up your teen nerd memories?
- Andrew: I agree that the teenage element is incredibly vital to this particular superhero. He goes through the same stuff that I went through. That’s why I loved it so much because I felt like I was him. He’s all of us. I did spend time in Queens (New York), hanging out with teenagers for recording the voice and intonation and picking up phrases that I may not be aware of, or just a general attitude, the awkward shyness, every aspect.
There was a great book of photographs I found for inspiration called “Teenage”. It was the energy of the photos that I wanted to capture especially in those moments between Gwen (Emma’s character) and Peter. It’s that need to kick the walls down irrationally, which, when you combine that with being a superhero it’s kind of exciting. But “Teenage”, check out that book. It’s too expensive but find someone who has it, look at the pictures, and you’ll be like, “Ah God, I remember that feeling.” It’s a beautiful feeling to remember.
Andrew as Spidey at last year's Comic Con
Kidzworld: You are famous for putting on a cheap Spidey costume last year at Comic Con and talking about the movie as a fan. Why do that?
- Andrew: It wasn’t very thought out [laughs]. I was terrified to take on this role because it means so much to me, so I know how much it means to a lot of people. I wanted to be in the audience watching the panel. I didn’t want to be on the panel. That’s where I felt I belonged more. I just wanted to feel connected to the fans in a real way because I’m a fan first and foremost and it just felt like the right thing to do.
Kidzworld: With all the physical needs and teen angst of the role, how did you shake that off at the end of the day when you were making the film?
- Andrew: I didn’t. I kind of didn’t sleep very much. I dedicated myself to it really. It’s embarrassing to say [laughs], but I really did. We all have that one fictional character that we care about so, so much, and if ever that opportunity came along for any of us to play it, to serve it, to do it justice then you go, “Oh my God, I’m not allowed to sleep. I’m not allowed to think about anything else. I need to dedicate everything to this person. It’s given me so much in my life, I want to give all of myself to it.” So, I didn’t shake it off. Next time I might because I love sleeping and eating and all that (laughter). It was tough.
Kidzworld: Okay, what was tougher, doing the more romantic scenes or the death-defying action scenes?
- Andrew: They’re all pretty scary things. I actually felt more safe when I was swinging around because you have a very, very strong, safe pair of hands holding you up, and the romantic scenes are free falling, in a way, as they should be. They have to be spontaneous and free and terrifying because that’s what first love is. That’s why it’s the scariest thing to ever go through and the most exhilarating. You’ve got so much to lose. They were actually more frightening than swinging through the buildings in a weird way. And especially because it’s Emma and she’s terrifying [laughs].
Andrew as Spidey with Emma as Gwen
Kidzworld: Tech nerd question. Spidey has actual mechanical web shooters in this film. Did they actually work? Did anything come out of them?
- Andrew: Do I lie or do I tell the truth? [Laughs] No, it was a nice exercise in imagination. (You could) do whatever you wanted and know they could add it in in post production was kind of liberating. It would have been awesome if it was real.
Kidzworld: Did you have any issues with the costume at all? It doesn’t look comfortable.
Andrew: I had many issues with that costume. It’s a weird thing because every actor who plays a superhero is like,“The costume sucked.” Like we should just get together and talk about it because it’s so inappropriate to talk about in public. It’s like how dare we complain. We’re the ones who get to wear it. It’s the dream. But it was so terrible [laughs]. Let me just put it this way, the fantasy of wearing those costumes is really awesome and I enjoy that.
Andrew as Spidey on set
Kidzworld: You had to use some unique rigs to swing through the city. The training for the stunts must have been really hard.
- Andrew: There was something specific that I wanted to do with the physicality so that it wasn’t just a guy in a suit throwing punches and saying cheesy lines. I wanted it to be a spider boy. If we’re grounding this film in reality, then what happens when spider DNA is running through your bloodstream? What happens to this teenage boy who’s fidgety and nervous and can’t really keep still? He discovers that he can now have patience, like a spider.
There’s a scene which they cut out where I was doing something with all of my limbs at once. I was moving a lamp with my left foot, I was typing with my right foot, I was eating Chinese, and I was reaching for something behind me. That kind of thing is fun to play with. But then of course the physical training to change my body is horrible because I’m a lazy guy.(he laughs) I’m vain but I’m not vain enough to care about the gym.
Kidzworld: Was shooting in 3D difficult?
- Andrew: The only thing that was kind of a challenge was that it was difficult to get into a rhythm because of the 3D cameras, the new technology was difficult for everyone involved. They take a lot of care and delicacy so it meant that we were stuck occasionally. And I love just going, going and going, and keeping rolling, screwing up and screwing up, and then occasionally you’ll accidentally get something right and you won’t know how – that’s how I like to work.
Spidey gets ready to web-sling
Kidzworld: Have you gotten any feedback from the first Spidey Tobey Maguire?
- Andrew: To my knowledge, he hasn’t seen the movie, but when I got cast, he sent an email immediately, and it was very, very generous and made me feel like I could take the torch in confidence and I had the support in him. He didn’t need to do that and it’s a testament to him as a person. We’re all just a part of that family, the Spider-Man family.
Kidzworld: Some people would say Spider-Man is just a vigilante outside the law. How do you feel about that?
- Andrew: What’s cool about this movie is that he discovers the power of what he’s created. He creates (the character) so that he can protect himself because he was searching for his uncle’s killer. I think that he is a vigilante for a period of this story. I think it’s true for any teenager who goes through that amount of tragic events to have those impulses to kick out and rebel and use their powers in a way where they’re not thinking responsibly. They’re not even thinking at all.
Andrew caught in the web
He accidentally discovers that he’s created something bigger than him and that can be used for good. It was important to me that he started with a heroic impulse without the physical power to do anything with it. That was always how I felt growing up. I felt like the underdog and I felt like I was a skinny kid. Now I’m not. Obviously, I’m a huge bruiser [laughs]. Now I just realize that being skinny is okay, but I always thought I should have been bigger for some reason because society tells you that, I guess. That was something I always identified with for Peter that he always felt stronger on the inside than he did on the outside and there’s nothing better than seeing a skinny guy beat the crap out of a big guy.
Kidzworld: You’ve said that you want to audition for every part that you want and not ever just be given the role. Why is that important to you?
- Andrew: There are actors that reach a certain level of notoriety or visibility where they may get offered roles based on their monetary value or the idea that they will bring in an audience. And they may not be right for the part. That’s something I fear. The analogy is weird but if you’re in a pool hall playing pool and you have to put in 50 cents every time, you better enjoy that game because you’re paying for it. But if you figure out a way to jimmy the thing and you can get a free game of pool out of it, you’re not going to care so much about the game. I guess there’s something about staying grounded and humble and making sure you appreciate everything that you have.
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